I hear more people confess to feeling depressed, anxious, isolated, or all of the above, now than ever before. This emotional discord within millions makes me wonder, What exactly is missing from our lives that causes us to feel so turbulent and troubled?
What's missing is different for each of us: Maybe the departure of a loved one left a void that turned into depression. Maybe you suffered a trauma that's buried subconsciously and resurfaces in the form of anxiety. Maybe you've been betrayed so many times that as a defense mechanism, you became isolated and distrustful. Any of these factors might be what's missing. But the one thing that every person with a mental or emotional unbalance feels in excess is fear. Fear leads to irrationality and extremes. It stifles your spirit and creates the racing thoughts that warn something is definitely going to go wrong. Fear must be controlled, or it will very easily take control of you.
The old Latin phrase "anima sana in corpore sano" holds eternal truth: Emotions play a greater role in your well-being than you can imagine, as mental and physical harmony contribute equally to overall health. To achieve wellness on all levels, you must first stabilize your emotions.
You already know that your body reacts consequent to your sentimental state (cry when you're sad, smile when you're happy), but the theory goes much further than that: Certain diseases such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, depression, diabetes to an extent, and many more, are now thought to originate from toxic emotions trapped within the self. Indeed, emotional burden leads to certain illness.
Your body responds to every emotion you experience by creating and sending out the appropriate chemical or hormone. Positive emotions result in the creation of "feel-good" hormones while negative emotions trigger the body to produce dangerous chemicals that travel down to your very cells.
Cells have receptors that welcome in signals from the outside. A negative emotion chemical that enters your cells will have a tremendous impact on the way they function and can disrupt their delicate dynamic. Your cells are alive, after all, and--just like you--they feel everything that's happening to them. As you can imagine, negative emotion chemicals can cause unwanted reactions within your cells. Remember that your cells are reproducing at every second, and what's contained within them reproduces and spreads as well.
To balance emotions and promote complete health, take the following three steps:
Know your dominant emotion. Each day, you embark on a roller coaster of emotions that can shift quite suddenly and drastically: You might wake up in love with life, but when you hit that unmoving wall of traffic on your way to work, joy quickly turns to desperation. Despite this stream of conflicting emotions, one surfaces most often.
Your journey to emotional and physical health begins by deciphering the feelings that govern you. Keep a daily emotion diary, which can be the notepad on your phone or a small notebook in which you write down what you feel as the day progresses. After one week of consistently jotting down your feelings, revisit your journal entries: Which emotion comes up most frequently? Is it bitterness, emptiness, or envy? Is it joy, ambition, or fulfillment? Also pay close attention to the source of your dominant emotion: Are you anxious a lot during the week, and is it because of a specific person? If so, you may want to distance yourself from him, her, or the situation altogether. If your dominant emotion is a negative one, either eliminate the cause of it or plan a new way of dealing with it. If you find yourself in this position, it's time to break the cycle of pessimism, because you simply don't deserve to be trapped in a series of cynical moods.
Break the emotional habit. Within your brain exist nerve cells that are constantly reaching out to each other. Over time, these nerve cells establish a relationship. The brain sorts every emotion into the appropriate group of nerve cells. The more it experiences one type of emotion, the more it adds to that particular group of nerve cells. The worst part is that you get used to operating on repetitive emotions: If you're frustrated every day, your brain is prepared to receive more and more "frustrated" nerve cells. It gears itself up for the daily emotion and anticipates producing these cells. In this way, emotions too can become addictions.
To break the cycle of adverse emotions, you will need to rewire the nerve cells in your brain. The best way to do this is to cut off the bad emotion: If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, stop the emotion. Yes, you can stop an emotion through logical thought, deep breathing, distraction, different action, etc. The moment you become aware of the fact that you're becoming frustrated, for example, and distract yourself from this emotion, some of the nerve cells in the group called "frustration" detach from each other. If you do this enough times, the nerve group called "frustration" will diminish. Blocking a harmful, recurring feeling as soon as it arises will help you react differently to situations over time.
Release negative emotions in a healthy way. Emotion-management tools range from scribbling down your feelings to physical activities like vigorous exercise. When you're angry, I recommend beating the life out of a pillow (I said a pillow, not a person). Affirmations for mood control are also effective. Whenever you feel yourself getting carried away by a certain negative emotion, repeat to yourself: "I choose to surrender my [NEGATIVE EMOTION] and replace it with [POSITIVE EMOTION]. I banish [NEGATIVE EMOTION] from my heart, mind, and soul. I choose to nurture only love, abundance, health, faith, and healing within me." Also practice meditation techniques to re-center your mind and realign your inner flux. Lastly, surrender the mindset of isolation and surround yourself with like-minded people. Learning to trust again is a process, but its rewards are invaluable.
Our own negative feelings can prevent us from reaching our potential, yet we hold the power to deter them and help positive thoughts thrive. Then, we can embody true health at the level of mind-body-spirit. We begin by reevaluating our emotions, and it all flows from there.
To health on all levels,
Dr. Carmen Harra
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